What’s gone wrong with this country? It used to be that anytime the tall foreheads in charge of the IOC invented another sport, Canada would kick some serious booty. We did it with synchro swimming. We did it again with trampoline. We’ve done it with flip skiers in the Winter Games, too.
So, this time, we’ve got BMX mountain biking, which is supposed to appeal to the sorts of people who stick pins and needles in places nature never intended and sprout tattoos like some south seas islander stumbled upon by Captain Cook. The sport sounds something like roller derby or snowboard cross on wheels, and what could go wrong with that other than smashed bones and foreheads dripping with blood?
The point we’re making (slowly) is that Canucks have always outsmarted other countries by quickly jumping on the new sports and boosting our medal counts. But there’s no Canadian favoured in BMX, despite the fact Toronto is the bike-stealing capital of the world and that we’ve got more mountains to ride bikes down than any country in civilization.
Definitely something amiss.
Woke up to the thickest, glommiest air we’ve seen here in the capital of all Olympism, at least until Aug. 25.
Most days you can at least see the buildings down the road from the media village. Not on Thursday, though. Visibility MIGHT have been a third of a mile. But you’d have had a hard time describing anything that far away except to say, “Hey, that looks like a building.’”
Haven’t seen anything like this since Los Angeles in the 1960s.
(Folks love to make fun of LA’s air, but it really hasn’t been that bad in a long time. As a student at UCLA back in the late 1970s, my family in northern California loved to make a joke that went along the lines of, “You know what happens when the smog clears? You see LA.” Ha, ha).
This has nothing to do with anything, but if you think folks outside Toronto hate Canada’s most populous city, it doesn’t compare to how folks north of Santa Barbara (more or less) feel about the water stealing, celebrity-loving, smog-inhaling, shallow-minded, overly-tanned and botoxed denizens of southern California. It’s tons of fun.
WHY BUY A MATTRESS ….
Everyone talks about the water cube Olympic swimming pool looking like bubble wrap or some such. Personally I think it resembles a giant mattress. I keep having nightmares about seeing Christine Magee from Sleep Country Canada pop up and start talking about a mismatched bed set sale.
You’d think home crowds would be a help for the Chinese. Not everyone sees it that way, though.
“Fighting on home soil may be an advantage in other sports, but in shooting we call it the ’home venue curse’,” said team head coach Wang Yifu in an Associated Press report.
“Mother tongue interference and home advantage pressure are the biggest obstacles,” he said, with his proteges complaining that fans chattering in Chinese was a distraction.
"If they talk in foreign languages, it’s just a noise. But if they talk in Chinese I will subconsciously try to understand and this is a distraction I have to overcome," said Wei Ning, the women’s skeet silver medallist in 2004.
LOVE THOSE AUSSIES
Great item from colleague Jacquie Magnay in the Sydney Morning Herald about a "stoush" that took place between two long-time IOC rivals the other day.
Gotta love it.
During the flag-raising ceremony the other night, one of the athletes from Tanzania was nicely standing with his hand over his heart. As the TV cameras used to provide pictures on the big screen at the village panned over his compatriots, you could clearly see that he was the only person making the gesture. One of them happened to look up at the screen, however, and noticed the faux pas was being broadcast to one and all. Quickly, three or four arms snapped to attention and hands fell into place. You never know when the president or prime minister is watching.
JUST FINE, LAUREN
Canadian softballer Lauren Bay spoke passionately at a Canadian Olympic Committee "here's how we're going to do at the Summer Games" press conference on Thursday. Bay talked about the coming softball tournament and how proud she is to represent her country. When her turn at the microphone was over, she turned to chef de mission Sylvie Bernier and whispered, "Was that okay?" Awwww.
BE VERY CAREFUL
Speaking of people in power, was rubbing scapulas with an IOC member the other day who was talking about visiting the St. Petersburg office of Russia’s head honcho, Vladimir Putin. Apparently, the joke goes that the old KGB office in St. Petersburg was known as “all of Russia.” The punch line is that it was known as all of Russia because “from here you can see Siberia.”
Poor Adam Van Koeverden was asked to say hello to the folks in Quebec on CBC French television the other night after the Canadian flag was raised at the media village. If you missed it, consider yourself fortunate. It wasn’t pretty. But he had a good laugh and at least gave it a shot.
Canadian chef de mission Sylvie Bernier is one of only 11 women in charge of team delegations at the Olympics. Considering there are 205 countries here, that’s not very good in the female leadership department.
Bernier, by the way, was a gold medalist in three-meter springboard diving at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. She’s the last non-Chinese woman to have copped a gold in that event, and that’s saying something.
HEY, AREN’T YOU ….
Spotted at the athletes village the other night were Raptors star point guard Jose Calderon and Sydney Olympic wrestling hero Daniel Igali.